“This is a book to swan dive into, swim around in, luxuriate in.” – Laini Taylor’s blurb
Yeeeeessss! Laini Taylor could not have been more accurate with that comment. In fact, instead of tearing through this book like I had planned on doing, I often forced myself to slow down in order to really immerse myself in the story and savor it—or as my favorite author perfectly put it: to LUXURIATE in it.
Set in an alternate fictional Paris in 1889, the book throws you right into the action and centers on a group of main characters hunting down an artifact that is key in restoring their leader Severin's status as heir of his fallen House. Honestly, I can see this as a successful mini-series/tv show and am shocked to see the rights haven't yet been optioned!
The world Chokshi crafted was by far my favorite part. I so badly wanted to be a part of it and transport myself into the story. The magic system (Forging) provided such enrichment for a setting that was already so enticing on its own. And Chokshi really did use this to her advantage; the book was dappled with so many surprises and strange little oddities that brought the book to life—and made the possibilities seem endless. Of course, that was all elevated furthermore by Chokshi's lush writing style.
Right behind the vivid worldbuilding were the excellent characters. Each of the main characters are outcasts of sorts that come together and form this tight-knit bond, and I always love that—that kind of “found family” dynamic. Naturally, the exploration of identity is a huge theme amongst these characters, and one I greatly enjoyed reading.
To be honest, at first, the characters were hard to separate. As I said before, you’re thrown into the action from the get-go and their voices aren’t very distinct (their similar senses of humor don't help), but stick with them and, like I said, they were easily my second favorite part of the book. Zofia is a new all-time favorite character of mine, although I also really loved Enrique. I found Laila's power so original and her backstory so gripping. Tristan, I just wanted to hug and protect.
The book opens with Virgil's infamous “if I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell” quote, and brings me to my last favorite element: what the artifact actually was and for what it was to be used. The lore behind it all was fascinating to consider. I won't spoil anything, but I will just say the obsession people have with desiring supernatural/holy power always freaks me out, but definitely makes for interesting, and sometimes my favorite, reads. Mortals attempting to attain godhood? Good stuff.
I'm curious to see what the sequel has in store!